WHEN BEETHOVEN SHOWED UP IN MY ART

If I were going to a deserted island, I would definitely take Beethoven with me. (You can read my blog HOW A WALK AND A PODCAST MADE ME GET SERIOUS ABOUT MY ART here.) During the past year I spent time learning to play both Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata, so it makes sense these pieces would find their way into my artwork!

Moonlight Sonata, ©vickiemartin2020, mixed media on canvas 30×30

The inspiration for MOONLIGHT FOR ELISE is from both The Moonlight Sonata and Fur Elise. While Fur Elise is not the hardest piece of music piece of music to play, it is hard to play it well. I listened to the pianist Lang-Lang discuss Fur Elise and simply said it should be played “as light as a feather”, a statement that I think of every time I sit down to play it.

Interesting, Fur Elise was not published until 1867, forty years after Beethoven’s death in 1827!! It was written in 1810 and apparently shoved into a drawer (without the nickname Fur Elise on it!). He revised it in 1827 and put it back in the drawer where it stayed until 1867, discovered by a musicologist. No one knows who is was written for, Beethoven was NOT lucky in love! There have been so many variations of this piece of music, if you look on YOUTUBE, you can find a blues version, a ragtime version and a classical guitar version. It has been referred as a “little trifle” that became a classic.

The top painting was inspired by The Moonlight Sonata. Beethoven once complained to fellow pianist Czerny (and student) “Everybody is always talking about the C-sharp minor Sonata! (Moonlight Sonata) Surely I have written better things. There is the Sonata in F-sharp major—that is something very different.”

It is interesting to note Beethoven was already loosing his hearing when he wrote The Moonlight Sonata. The name was not given to the piece by Beethoven, but rather the1830s German music critic and romantic poet named Ludwig Reilstab was the first to describe the piece as relating to moonlight. He referred to the sonata as “a boat visiting, by moonlight, the primitive landscapes … in Switzerland”.

Below are two collages based on the songs. Note the feathers in the ones inspired by Fur Elise (inspired by Lang-Lang’s description).

Fur Elise, ©vickiemartin2021, 6×6 collage on a 10×10 board

Moonlight Sonata, ©vickiemartin2021, 6×6 collage on 10×10 board.

The above piece integrates my own music into the collage. The vertical pieces are inspired by – from left to right, the octave in the bass, then moving to the right, there are two sets of three vertical pieces that symbolize the broken chords that make up the theme of Moonlight Sonata.

One last interesting fact about Beethoven is there is no proof that he ever met Mozart. But, both Beethoven and Mozart studied under Haydn.

Also, Beethoven played with so much passion and was so intense, he often broke the strings of the pianos in performances. Pianos back then were no where near as resilient as they are today, the cast iron frame commonly used in pianos wasn’t developed until after Beethoven’s death.

Do you have a favorite piece of music you couldn’t live without?

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